The BDS movement regularly cites Hampshire College as an example of BDS success in promoting divestment from Israel. In December 2011, an ad hoc committee presented the new “socially responsible” – or “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) – investing policy of Hampshire College, and the committee used the opportunity to forcefully reaffirm the administration’s consistent past assertions that no divestment from Israel ever occurred, that Israel was never singled out and that the College always explicitly rejected the analogy to South African apartheid (more details here):
“there is clarity and unanimity on the Board that it did not make a decision to divest from the State of Israel, that it did not decide that Israel was in the same camp as South Africa”.
The case of Hampshire College, which stands as a symbol for having been the first college to publically divest from companies doing business in South Africa in the 1980s, shows the extent to which BDS activists will go to claim false divestment “victories”. Even though Hampshire administration officials made it clear in 2008 that divestment from Israel was not on their agenda, SJP took advantage of a 2009 review of investment holdings, which led Hampshire to sell shares in a particular fund (that included companies targeted by SJP), and quickly declared victory, announcing to the world that Hampshire had become the first US college to openly divest from Israel. As thoroughly reported by Divest This, the administration announced that its investment decisions had nothing to do with Israel, and that SJP was deliberately misleading the public, taking advantage of the administration’s initial lack of clarity.